Friday, January 16, 2009

Gas: Bulgaria - no comforting news from Gazprom

Bulgarian Minster of Economy and Energy Petar Dimitrov in an interview with FOCUS News Agency

FOCUS: Minister Dimitrov, is there any good news from Gazprom?

Minister: I am afraid that there isn’t any good news due to the simple reason that according to Russia the gas pipeline that should transport gas for Bulgaria is the transit gas pipeline that is obviously empty and should be filled up. Ukraine offers alternatives for gas transit through another inlet stations – Pisarevska and Valuika. Russian Prime Minister underscored that Russia is ready for “swapping deals”. If Ukraine takes the engagement to transport gas for Bulgaria, Russia would agree. Unfortunately talks with “Gazprom” shown that there isn’t technical possibility for realization of such delivery.

FOCUS: Mr. Dimitrov why it is talking only about 76 million cubic meters of gas per 24 hours? This is not the whole gas quantity for the European Union but only for the Balkans. Why the issue is not solving in general as the European Commission demands but starts with the most affected states?

Minister: It is obvious that the problem couldn’t be solved in general, because there are insuperable conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. The simplest Russian explanation is when the plug has been turned off there were enough quantity of gas in the transit pipeline. Now it is empty and it should be filled up from those who had drained it.

FOCUS: Could you managed to agree something with the Turkish Energy Minister?

Minister: There is a positive mood. He undertook the engagement a team of their gas company to discuss the options for opening gas plugs that are at the border and whether we could receive any quantity from there. He has more perspective offerings in future – as an example for joint construction of connections via the Straits to secure gas from Azerbaijan and Iran’s gas pipelines, which Istanbul feeds. Thus Bulgaria would receive gas in crisis situations as the current one. He also offered one more variant – the gas pipeline that is very likely to become a reversible gas pipeline to be linked with TGI (Turley – Greece – Italy, which is ready only to its Greek part).

Thus if that connection would be made we also should use it. We agreed that the two gas companies will immediately start talks at technical level. But the question in point is for emergency situations when the gas flow would be reversed.

FOCUS: There was a meeting of prime ministers of Bulgaria, Moldova and Slovakia in Novo Ogoryovo. What is your impression from the meeting?

Minister: The general impression is that these states are the most affected by the crisis.

Moldova hasn’t gas depot so it is in most dramatic situation. Slovakia says it has closed over a thousand enterprises and suffers great losses every day, but Slovakia has other options – to receive gas from the North gas pipeline that passes through Belarus and Poland for the account of Germany and Great Britain. We haven’t such alternative and the situation is very aggravated.

FOCUS: A visit in Kiev is forthcoming. What are your prognosis and expectations after the talks in Moscow?

Minister: I know that the final talks would be between the Bulgarian Prime Minister and President Medvedev in the presence of Prime Minister Putin. Talks in Kiev depend on the result of those talks, so I couldn’t make any prognoses for what we would ask from Kiev.

FOCUS: Are you well informed about the current situation in Bulgaria? Do you know what happens in the country every day?

Minister: Yes, of course. The staff gives me operative information, there is also online connection, and thus I am well informed about the situation in Bulgaria.

FOCUS: Was is mentioned about some kind of compensations or even re-agreement during the talks with Gazprom?

Minister:Russian position is absolutely firm, that compensations should be required. But of course the address is Ukraine not Gazprom.

Source: FOCUS Information Agency
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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